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Tinytopia Review (PC)
#1        Tinytopia Review (PC)
very good
key review info

    Game: Tinytopia
    Platform: PC
    Show system requirements
    Gamepad support: No
    Reviewed on: September 23, 2021 14:32 GMT
    Written by: Cosmin Vasile

Tinytopia key art

My version of San Francisco is clearly more crowded than the real world one, but I like efficient cities and the citizens in this virtual city do not get to vote me out of office. I also spoil them with the biggest and most capable versions of the fire department, hospital, and police station. They can also enjoy the sight of important landmarks, like Alcatraz and a slightly tilted Coit Tower. I need to crowd in a few more Victorian houses to achieve my secondary objective and then I will plop down another big building to finish the level. For my next trick, I need to build a community on a vinyl player.

Tinytopia was put together by MeNic Games and published by Mastiff. I played the experience on the PC using Steam. The title takes the core ideas of city-building and emphasizes the puzzle elements, with a focus on accessibility, aiming to make the genre accessible to a wider audience.

As is to be expected for the genre the narrative is pretty light. Gamers become the all-powerful mayor that can transform a clump of buildings into Paris and other modern metropolises. Weirder, he can also create communities that defy the laws of reality inside the more whimsical levels. The game alternates between challenges based on the two, which gives it a good rhythm and makes sure players are looking forward to seeing what the next level has to offer. A full sandbox is available for anyone who wants to recreate their real-life city or implement their perfect vision of one.

Regardless of the level, the core gameplay of Tinytopia is the same. Think of it as a city builder that’s been stripped down to its main elements. Citizens need houses or apartments or trailers to live in. These residential structures require services, from fire and police departments to schools, libraries, and parks. Nothing works without power. Airports, stadiums, and other major buildings are modular. All the people living in a residential building need jobs, which can be provided by stores, offices, and factories. Players need to carefully consider building placement to create well-functioning neighborhoods.

Tinytopia’s big twist and unique element is a puzzle element linked to the buildings. Put a few apartments together in a particular way and you get a bigger version. Stack enough trailers atop one another and you get a tower, which in turn has five tiers, getting increasingly more difficult to build without creating a disaster.

The game shows a faint outline after placing the first level of each building to show players how it can be expended. Take care when placing more blocks to get to a new tier, perspective, and physics matter. It’s hard to create the biggest possible trailer tower without using auto snap and scaffolding. The discovery element of the building expansion puzzles is fun and leads to some interesting placement problems. And the blueprints section of the game reveals that there are plenty of evolutions to try out.
Play Video

The problem is that Tinytopia cannot maintain momentum. I am too used to the deep challenges of other titles in the genre to be satisfied with cities I can master in half an hour. I like the idea of completing small puzzles to make my hospital much better. But I don’t like that I have to complete a block placing exercise for each big apartment building I need to have in a neighborhood.

I think the game is well-suited to anyone who has not tried to engage with the more complex city builders before. But for players who are good at something like SimCity or Skylines this game does not have enough of a twist to be engaging for long.

Tinytopia doesn’t aim for realism. Its cities are built from toys and the larger landscape suggests a child playing in his bedroom. Everything has a slight plastic feel, which is a good fit for the mechanics, and there’s a level of cute here that might be a little much for some players. The music delivers some jazzy with morning cartoon vibes tracks that always stay in the background, allowing the player to focus on the development of their toy city.

The Good

    Easy to pick-up mechanics
    Puzzle elements
    Gimmick based levels

The Bad

    Needs more variety
    Some puzzle building design
    Needs more monsters

Tinytopia is a good entry point into the city management genre. Its ideas are sound, and the mechanics are simple yet engrossing, especially for the player who wants to see the highest tier for all the buildings he can use. The levels, both real-world and gimmick-based, are also good and varied.

The biggest issue I have with the experience is that it does not evolve too much once the core concepts are established. My Pharaoh and Caesar-dominated childhood probably makes me want more complexity in city-building and bigger projects to work on. But the development team at MeNic clearly understands that there’s space in the genre for an entry-level title with clever twists and delivers on this premise well.

Review code provided by the publisher.

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